Overall it was a difficult and active year for PFMA and our members. Thank you for all your help and support, it is essential to our success.
SUCCESSFULLYBLOCKED (as of January 1, 2017):
Philadelphia Non-Reusable Beverage Container tax- PFMA was successful in blocking passage of a 15 cents per non-reusable beverage container tax in city council. Taxable items would have included any soft drink, including sodas, carbonated water, natural or spring water, or flavored water; natural or artificial ready-to-drink tea; natural or artificial ready-to-drink coffee; or artificial vegetable juice and energy drinks.
Grocery Store Restrictive Covenant Legislation- PFMA and its members in Philadelphia were successful in blocking passage of legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Cindy Bass which would restrict grocery stores with over 15,000 square feet of space located in a food desert from restricting another grocery store from buying during transition of sale, and refuse a commercial license for any grocery store that had a restrictive covenant in its lease. This issue will come up again for action in 2017.
Online Lottery Expansion- PFMA through public testimony opposed the creation of an online lottery which would have undercut lottery sales and other product sales by its members. This issue was discussed in a joint hearing by the House Finance and House Gaming Oversight Committees. PFMA also educated members in both the House and Senate on the problems associated establishing an online lottery.
Property Tax Reform/Shifting: Several proposals were introduced this session to reduce or eliminate property taxes. Unfortunately, these proposals included shifting the tax burden to employers and working families in the form of increased and expanded sales taxes and higher personal income taxes. PFMA was successful in preventing the ultimate passage of these proposals.
PLCB Modernization Only Legislation (SB 15)- PFMA helped block passage of legislation that would have looked to solely modernize the PLCB, and not provide additional privileges and benefits to retailers and their customers.
Minimum Wage Increases- Prevented the passage of various bills on the state and federal levels which would increase the state minimum wage from the $7.25 per hour to anywhere from $9.00 to $15 per hour. Some of these bills would have included automatic increases to the minimum wage tied to inflation/Consumer Price Index.
State GMOLabeling Legislation - Prevented passage of legislation which sought to require labeling of all products with genetically modified ingredients.
State Menu Labeling Legislation- Helped prevent passage of legislation which would look to enact a state menu labeling law. This type of legislation had been introduced in past legislative sessions.
State Sales Tax Rate Increase and Expansion- PFMA successfully blocked efforts in 2016 to raise the sales and use tax and expand the base of products to which it can be applied.
Personal income tax Increase- PFMA helped block efforts in 2016 to raise the personal income tax rate.
Enactment of Pittsburgh Paid Leave Ordinance- Opposed this legislation and worked with our allies to support a lawsuit which prevented the implementation of the Pittsburgh City Council Paid Leave Ordinance.
SUCCESSFULLYPASSED (as of January 1, 2017):
HB 1690 (Turzai) Alcohol Modernization/Wine Privatization- PFMA was successful in helping to secure passage of a long-time priority piece of legislation, HB 1690, which would allow Restaurant License holders to sell up to four bottles of wine for off-premise consumption. The legislation also codifies a court decision that allows license-holders that also sell gas to continue to operate as long as the two operations are separate. HB 1690 also provides the PLCB with the ability to reissue restaurant licenses that haven’t been renewed or revoked via an auction. Up to 50 licenses can be auctioned per county, per year pending approval by the municipality in which the license is transferred. This is remarkable progress for PFMA members, their customers and the Commonwealth.
HB 1196 (Act 39 Fix-It Legislation)- PFMA was successful is helping to amend and pass HB 1196 which made a number of changes and corrections to HB 1690 (Act 39). One of the major changes in the bill would allow beer distributors the ability to sell down to one bottle of beer. Another major change would ensure that holders of wine-expanded permits may submit for a credit on the sales tax they pay to the PLCB, instead of having to go through the process of applying for a refund. Third, the bill addresses the staffing of the register with regard to wine and beer sales and would allow the register to be staffed when there are patrons in the licensed premises and not require it be staffed at all times. Fourth, the bill changes the interlocking business standard by increasing the financial interest threshold from 5% to 10%. Finally, the bill removes an unofficial Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) requirement for license-holders to have a separate entrance for their license premises.
PFMA helped push for many of these changes included in the bill which will correct errors contained in the liquor code and Act 39.
HB 946 (Baker) Pharmacy Audit Legislation- PFMA assisted in the passage of HB 946 which helps to standardize procedures for pharmacy audits. HB 946 also requires PBM’s to register and comply with the Department of Insurance, and places restrictions on PBM’s placing of drugs on the multiple-source generics list. This legislation was nearly five years in the making and another priority for our members.
This was another priority issue for our members.
Cigarette Minimum Pricing Legislation HB 1605/SB 591- Language contained in SB 691 (Bob Mensch) was amended into HB 1605, the budget fiscal code vehicle. The legislation provides for an increase in the minimum presumptive price for cigarettes for the retailer from six percent to seven percent. It also provides for retention of records and for violations and penalties and providing for preemption.
This was a priority issue for PFMA.
Additional Menu Labeling Rule Delay- PFMA was successful in helping to secure a second delay in the FDA’s menu labeling requirements. Pending changes from Congress or the new Presidential administration, the FDA will begin enforcement on May 5, 2017.
S.764 Federal GMO labeling/state preemption compromise legislation- PFMA worked with its national partners helped to secure passage of Federal GMO labeling law. This law would require GMO labeling, but also include strong federal preemption of states trying enacting their own labeling laws. The disclosure would be allowed in a number of forms including on pack, symbol or QR codes for larger companies and 800 numbers and websites for smaller companies. This was a big win for PFMA and the food industry.
Philadelphia Healthy Beverage Tax Credit- PFMA was successful in helping to secure passage of legislation which provides a tax credit for certain stores to provide healthy beverage options. Eligible stores are defined by NAICS numbers, and include small format stores, specialty stores, convenience stores, and limited-service restaurants. Healthy beverages are any non-sweetened beverage. The maximum tax credit allowed is $2,000. The maximum payout by the city is $1 million, and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
PROGRESS MADE ON PRIORITY ISSUES (as of January 1, 2017):
Convenience Store Permits (HB 1733)- PFMA supports and was successful in helping to secure introduction of HB 1733 which would create a convenience store permit for off premises sales of malt and brewed beverages. This legislation will enhance the choice, convenience and selection Pennsylvania residents are demanding from companies and elected officials.
Changes to the SNAP Disbursement Schedule (SB 1364, Argall and HB 2404, Toohil)- PFMA worked to adjust the SNAP disbursement schedule to allow for a staggered approached in providing benefits to recipients across the Commonwealth. Currently recipients receive their benefits in the first ten days of the month. PFMA was successful in helping to convene and participating in a Senate Majority Policy Committee Hearing on the issue. Also, PFMA had legislation introduced, SB 1364 and HB 2404, to address this issue. The legislation is awaiting action in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and House Health Committee. These actions helped bring attention to the issue and spurred interest from the Wolf Administration to help find a solution.
Paid Leave Preemption- PFMA and its allies helped advance paid leave preemption in the form of SB 333. The bill would prohibit local municipalities from passing paid and unpaid leave ordinances. The legislation successfully passed the Senate with a wide bi-partisan vote.
Patent Reform Legislation- PFMA, working with its allies, was successful in having legislation introduced on the state Level to help address the issue of patent trolls.